Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment The Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program supports the enhancement of research capabilities of minority-serving institutions through the establishment of centers that effectively integrate education and research. CREST promotes the development of new knowledge, enhancements of the research productivity of individual faculty, and an expanded presence of students historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. With National Science Foundation support, Florida International University strengthens their Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment. The Phase II Center expands detection capabilities to unknown and novel emerging contaminants, both natural and anthropogenic, as well as ecosystems of study. Center researchers develop new technologies for improving water quality analysis and contaminant detection in a range of ecosystems, including freshwater, coastal, and urban environments, as well as provide data on the impacts of these contaminants on ecosystem function.
The Center expands the study area to include aquatic systems along an urbanization gradient. By designing novel sensors and autonomous vessels that can explore difficult to reach urban areas, the Center collects continuous and near real-time data on emerging contaminants. Phase II moves from a focus on detection and transport of contaminants, to a mechanistic understanding of the impacts of these contaminants at the organismal, community, and population levels. Using an Understanding the Rules of Life conceptual approach, Phase II unifies across multiple scales, as well as integrates campus-wide programs in Chemistry, Biology, Earth Systems, Computer Science, Engineering, and Architecture. The Center implements a rigorous education program that builds on lessons learned during Phase I. The Center adds an undergraduate research fellows’ program. Formal and informal education programs prepare students to communicate the results of their research and for the future STEM workforce. Center training includes core professional skills, as well as micro-credentials in tools necessary to understand complex environmental problems, including robotics, next generation sensor development, big-data analytics, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.